An exciting video captured by a drone revealed the details of the kilometer-long Batagayka crater in far eastern Russia, where this crater forms the largest permafrost in the world.
The video clip shows two explorers climbing the rugged terrain at the base of the depression, which is characterized by an irregular surface and small hills, a terrain that began to form after the surrounding forest was cut down in the 1960s and after the permafrost began to thaw, causing the land to sink.
“We locals call it ‘down’,” said Ariel Strochkoff, a local resident and explorer of the depression, standing at the edge of the depression.
He added, “It began to appear in the seventies of the last century, and it first appeared in the form of a deep narrow valley. Then it began to expand due to melting in the heat of sunny days.”
Scientists say Russia is warming at least two and a half times faster than the rest of the world, causing the long-frozen tundra that covers about 65 percent of Russia to melt and releasing greenhouse gases stored in the thawing soil.
And the “gate to the underworld”, as some locals call it in the Russian Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), has a scientific name, which is the Great Depression.
Nikita Tananaev said that although the depression attracts tourists, its increase in area is a “risk sign”. Tananayev is a senior researcher at the Melnikov Institute of Glacier Soils in Yakutia.
“In the future, as temperatures rise and man-made disaster pressures increase, we will see more and more of these huge depressions, until all the glacial soil is gone,” she added.